Need for SWaP Solutions

The military and aerospace (mil/aero) community uses hundreds of acronyms; this fact became evident almost immediately as I began work in the industry. The most prevalent and important acronym continues to be SWaP—which stands for size, weight, and power.

SWaP is of paramount importance to mil/aero systems designers, and to the end users—including warfighters in the field reliant on electrical and electronic innovations to ensure not only mission success, but also their own safety.    

The amount of electronics being incorporated in ground combat vehicles continues to grow and grow. The good news is electronics are replacing soldiers within vehicles in harsh environments; a four-man crew within a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV or Humvee) has been reduced to a single soldier or two-man crew in many instances.

HMMWV or Humvee in the field.

HMMWV or Humvee in the field.

 The bad news: The rapid increase in vehicle electronics, commonly referred to as vetronics, has overloaded the electrical infrastructure in pre-existing vehicle platforms. The amount of available electricity is insufficient to power all necessary on-board systems; as a result, it has been reported, commanders in the field must choose which systems to power and which to power down. In some cases, soldiers are essentially sitting ducks, unable to employ mission-critical electronics, such as RPG (rocket-propelled grenade), IED (improvised explosive device), and mine detection systems.

The mil/aero industry needs innovators and innovations to solve these size, weight, and power challenges. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is dedicated—and has dedicated funds—to revamping the electrical/power systems within military ground combat vehicles.

 As this geek has observed over many years in this industry, electronic systems become more powerful and so do their power needs. In fact, I worked several years for a company that used spray cooling (misting non-conductive fluid directly on the electronics) technology to help combat this SWaP epidemic that system integrators and engineers battle with daily. Through experience, all this geek can say is that this SWaP problem will not simply go away!

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Posted August 30th, 2010, by

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About J. VanDomelen Mil/Aero Blog

J. VanDomelen holds a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems and myriad certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTia in varying facets of computer software, hardware, and network design and implementation. He has worked in the electronics industry for more than 12 years in varied fields, including advanced systems design of highly technical military and aerospace computer systems, semiconductor manufacturing, open source software development, hardware design, and rapid prototyping. J. VanDomelen Mil/Aero Blog

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